After a franchise-best 4 1/2 sacks last week in a dramatic win over the Panthers, Bills defensive end Mario Williams was primed for another big afternoon. Instead, he was shut down and frustrated in the Jets’ 27-20 win on Sunday.
The matchup didn’t look favorable for the Jets with quarterback Geno Smith having been sacked eight times in the two games leading up to Week 3. He was hassled, harried and hit — very hard at times in the first two games — which has led the rookie quarterback to look unsettled in the pocket and force some throws.
The offensive line did a tremendous job against the Bills, as Smith did not get sacked.
“I thought we had a good plan going into it. Watching the film [from yesterday], we did some good things but there’s some things to be cleaned up,” center Nick Mangold told Metro. “You obviously want to protect the quarterback and when you do, you can do some big things.”
In addition, Williams only registered one tackle and zero sacks. He looked nowhere near as dangerous as the player from the week before.
The key to limiting Williams was to be aggressive at the point of contact and not passive. Having watched his performance against the Panthers a week before, the game plan called for the offensive line, tight ends and fullback Tommy Bohanon to provide support to keep Smith from getting hit.
The end result was the best day in Smith’s young career. He went 16-of-39 for 331 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Williams rarely got close to Smith, the result of a group effort by the Jets blockers.
“He’s a monster, you can’t let a guy like that get going. You gotta make sure that there’s an outside pressure, [and] he’s going to feel a little chip,” tight end Kellen Winslow told Metro. “Once he gets going, once he gets his arms on you, it is over. So you have to get him within the first couple steps, then it will slow him down. It was a group effort.”
Williams flip-flopped between both sides of the line going up against left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and right tackle Austin Howard.
For the first time all season, the Jets offensive line played up to its potential.
“We knew who we were going up against. Conference games are huge; every game is huge. We understand that we really haven’t shown our capabilities yet. We wanted to go out there and make a statement, go out there and show what we can do,” Howard told Metro. “I wouldn’t say it is a chip on our shoulder. I wouldn’t say that. We have a ton of respect for those guys. It was a dog fight all game long. It’s something we really wanted to go out there and have a lot of success and have that attitude. Go out there and attack and not be on the receiving end — have something to build on.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.